Castello di Meleto: awards update

Posted on: 22-09-2014

Herebelow the latest reviews for Castello di Meleto's wines:

Antonio Galloni
Chianti Classico Riserva Vigna Casi 2011 
90 Points 

Rosso di Toscana Rainero 2009
93 Points

 

Congratulations!


Borgo Maragliano: first information on harvest 2014

Posted on: 22-09-2014

Loazzolo (Asti),  Harvest 2014:

" As you maybe know, we had a summer with a lot of rain and not much sun.
Unfortunately, in some regions, producers are having or will have big problems with the aging and the health of their grapes.  

However, I think it’s unfair of some journalists to generalize negatively about this harvest.

In our case, I can tell you that, after many sacrifices and many hours of work in the vineyard, the 2014 harvest is healthy, mature, with peaks of exception.
I think I can confirm, with almost absolute certainty, that this year we will maintain the same quality as in the recent ones. "

                                                                                                                                                                                        quote Carlo Galliano, Borgo Maragliano


half century tasting

Posted on: 19-09-2014

What can you do with a Garofoli Brut Riserva Metodo Cassico 2008?

Just open a "half century tasting".

2008 Garofoli, Brut Riserva Metodo Classico 

1975 Chateau Nairac, Barsac Sauternes 

1992 Moët et Chandon, Champagne Cuvée Dom Pérignon 

2004 Josmeyer, Gewürztraminer Grand Cru Brand

1980 Tenuta San Guido, Sassicaia VdT 

1958 Chateau Gazin, Grand Cru Pomerol

1969 Graham's, Single Harvert Tawny Port


LaSelva: portrait of Karl Egger

Posted on: 16-09-2014

September 2014, Maremma (Tuscany)

A couple of weeks ago we interviewed Karl Egger, founder of LaSelva.
To learn more about the "heart" of this organic company, please take a look at the interview:

In 1980 Karl Egger sold his successful Electronics Business in Munich and moved to Tuscany, Italy to grow produce.

His motivation was to grow foods that tasted the way he remembers from when he was a child. 30+ years later, La Selva is one of the largest producers of organic produce, fruit and wine in Tuscany and regularly found on the shelves of German supermarkets.  

1. Mr. Egger, was there a specific dish or a specific fruit/vegetable that you remembered when deciding to grow fruits and vegetables in Tuscany that taste the way you remember from when you were young?

Yes, it was the carrots, the apples and other vegetables that I remembered tasting different. In the 70ies the quality of fruit and vegetables declined dramatically. Growing fruit and vegetables became a matter of the industry and chemical fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides were used in exaggeration. Apples started tasting like cabbage and the size of fruit and vegetables increased while their quality decreased. Bread, meat and cheese quality did not suffer as much as the quality of fruit and vegetables. 

2. Why organic?

In the 1980s the organic movement was not in fashion as it is today and came with economic challenges.
It was really my time in the USA as a young man that made me take this decision. At the time the quality of drinking water in the US was a catastrophy and bees, birds and other animals were almost extinct. 
I read a book by Rachel Carson, Silent Spring in which I learned more about the effects ointensiefied industrialization of agriculture. At the time airplanes released DDT and other terrible chemicals. Children in areas where such chemicals were used were often born with anomalities. All this information and these circumstances made me think and I wanted to show that agriculture can also be done without all the chemicals. I had several consultants that were specialized in non industrial and organic farming and since then La Selva is the proof that agriculture and farming can be done very well without the use of these products


3. What brought you to Italy? You could have grown foods that tasted like in the good old days in Bavaria also, right?

It was really the variety of foods you could grow in Italy that fascinated me. In Munich I could have produced potatoes and cabbage mostly and during a much shorter period of the year. So it was the favorable climate that made me come to Italy. Furthermore, the prices of land in Italy in the 70s and 80s were much lower than in Germany. 


4. How big is the farm and what are the most important crops? What role does wine play in your production?

In the 80s I bought about 78 ha in the Maremma. Today we have about 450 ha. The main crops are tomato and vegetable based foods, antipasti jars and sauces. Wine is part of the agricultural landscape in Tuscany and there was always some wine. Only about 12 years ago, when Roland Krebser joined the company, did the wine become a serious operation. Today we have over 20ha of wine and produce just under 20.000 cases of wine per year.


 

5. What are the most surprising challenges in producing wine?

Wine has always been made organically. Only in the last few decades have the chemicals and treatment substances changed that fact. In our winery, the actual process is not much different at all. It is mostly in the vineyards that there is a difference. The challenge, if any, is the fact that you need more manual labor to produce quality organic wine. Since you can not use chemical herbacides, pesticides or fertilizers you have to go into the vineyard more often an manage the health of the crops. In the very extreme case, one ha of vineyard can take as little as ca. 30 hours of work per year or about 600 hours of work per year as in our case.


6. What are the requirements to obtain BIO certification, the parameters in wine regarding sulfites, additives etc

We have been organic certified be Naturland, EU-Bio and NOP(usa) since I started with LaSelva, more than 30 years, 34 years to be exact. Naturland and NOP are two certification bodies with higher, stricter rules than the common EU-organic certification. In organic wine the maximum limit of sulfites is lower than in conventional wine, maximum 2/3 of what is allowed in conventional wine production. As it is our philosophy to add theleast  amount of additives as possible we are far under the maximum limit. For a few years, we make a wine without any added sulfites at all.


7. In your opinion, why don’t more farmers opt for organic?

It is probably the fact that more work needs to be done and that there is a higher risk of loosing more crop due to bad conditions that scare people away. However, especially in wine, organic farming practices are becoming more and more popular. In France more than 30% of all wineries work organically. There are still people that don’t believe in organic. There is a nice story about a woman that attended a lecture by an individual that grows organic crops. During the presentation the woman said that organic is all hokus pokus and she does not believe in it. The speaker at the podium asked the women if she had a plant at home. The woman answerd with yes. Then the speaker explained: if she had two equal plants at home and you would talk and care about one of them and give it water and attention and you would ignore the other and put out your cigarettes in it and dirty water what do you think would happen…? Caring for your plants and your environment and even your employees is organic. 

8. How difficult is producing organic food and wine n Italy (bureaucracy)?

The bureaucracy to obtain organic certification in Italy is just as time consuming as anywhere else in the EU. The certification bodies work closely together so the EU standards are the same. It is the bureaucracy in general in Italy that make running a business a challenge sometimes. 

9. In your opinion, why can’t the different organic organizations work out a unique set of rules?

The rules are the same for the EU organic standards that are claimed with the EU Organic Seal. It is smaller subgroups and organizations that claim to have better rules and higher values than others. In my opinion that is just so they can continue to exist and talk about themselves. 

10. How far can selection go to stay in harmony with nature?

With 450 ha we have reached a good size that allows us to operate and be healthy. Growing the operation now would become a challenge. At a certain level the management of the employees and also the well-being of the employees becomes significantly more work intense. But it is also a question of supply. This year, for example there is a significant shortage of Almonds, Hazelnuts, Olives and Tomatoes. So for companies our size and bigger the challenge is also getting the products in the quality they need and in the quantities the market is asking for. La Selva had to become a member and associate of different sourcing cooperations and associations to guarantee a certain stability to our biggest customers. Lastly the responsibility for employees and their well being is a significant aspect in size. For us the fair treatment and well being of our employees is important and we take our responsibility towards our employees serious. The bigger an operation becomes the more difficult it will become to live up to these human responsabilities also because of price and competition in the industrial segment. For an operation like LaSelva 450-500 ha and just above 85 employees is a good size that allows us to continue to live our values.  


11. What will the future for organic produced vegetables, fruits, and wines in the world look like?

This is a difficult question. Organic has become a quality standard and as such it is growing worldwide. This growth has also take organic to an industrial level. 


12. Would you do it again?

Absolutely yes. It has not only been an interesting project to learn and discover how organic farming can function in todays world. It has become a economically healthy operation and I get to eat food that tastes the way I remember it tasting prior to the industrialization of agriculture. 


13. What is the future of La Selva?

That remains to be seen. The company is very healthy. I am now 76 years old and I am actively looking for a good sustainable way to guarantee the continuation of this project for the next generations to come. In Italy it is not easy to transition a company that is profitable and the right partner or successor has yet to be found. 

Thanks to Mr Egger for the pleasant interview.

Please have a look at the completely renewed site of la Selva: www.cantina.laselva-bio.eu


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